VADA, Ga.-Love bugs bugged a minister so much that he spent 10 years developing their last rites-by sweeping away their gooey, stinky bodies with a wiper. The Rev. Jim Naylor, pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Vada, about 50 miles south of Albany, has patented a windshield wiper system that he claims will remove the smears from love bugs.
The offenders are slender black flies that mate in the air and splatter on windshields and headlights.
It's common to see the front of trucks and cars covered by a thick crust of smashed bugs. They can clog radiators and cause cars to overheat.
``The body consistency is like glue,'' said Rev. Naylor, 67. ``You leave them on for any time and it's difficult to get them off.''
Love bugs plague southern Georgia and northern Florida in two swarms-a light one in May and heavier one in August.
They're attracted to highways by heat and exhaust fumes.
``If you're going down the road on a long trip and you have to stop to clean them off, you're never going to make any time,'' he said. ``With this device, you can keep them cleaned off.''
He was driving to Florida in 1985 when love bugs spattered the windshield and his wipers only smeared the mess.
``When the love bugs massacred my windshield,'' he said, ``I was disgusted. I said, `There's got to be a better way to get them off.' ''
His invention is two windshield wiper blades, one rubber and the other mesh that scrubs the mess away.
A tiny motor controlled from a switch in the car pivots the blades so that only one is in contact with the windshield at a time.
To scrub love bugs away, a motorist squirts washer fluid on the glass, then uses the mesh blade, followed by more fluid and a couple of swipes with the rubber blade.
Rev. Naylor has designs in the works for five more inventions, including a washer fluid that he says will clean the bugs off better.
He spent about $6,000 for the patent, which was awarded recently, and spent another $3,000 to have a prototype made. It might be in production by September, he said.
His wife, Elizabeth, was skeptical, considering the money he spent on lawyers and patent fees. ``I'm getting more and more encouraged,'' she said. ``I'm just anxious for things to start coming together.''
Elsie Hand, the mayor of Pelham, about 15 miles east of Vada, believes Rev. Naylor's invention will be a boon to mankind.
``People may laugh, but if we can get that on the market, the guy who invented hula-hoops won't have a chance,'' Mrs. Hand joked.
Anyone who has ever driven south of the gnat line-the imaginary line dividing southern and northern Georgia-knows what a nuisance love bugs can be, said the mayor.
``I have no love for love bugs,'' she said. ``I think the name ought to be something else. I don't even like to associate the name with those things.''